In 1942, a Canadian intelligence officer in North Africa encounters a female French Resistance fighter on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. When they reunite in London, their relationship is tested by the pressures of war.
A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.
The story of Ray Kroc, a salesman who turned two brothers' innovative fast food eatery, McDonald's, into one of the biggest restaurant businesses in the world with a combination of ambition, persistence, and ruthlessness.
John Lee Hancock
John Carroll Lynch
Retreating from life after a tragedy, a man questions the universe by writing to Love, Time and Death. Receiving unexpected answers, he begins to see how these things interlock and how even loss can reveal moments of meaning and beauty.
Massimo's idyllic childhood is shattered by the death of his mother. Years later, he is forced to relive his traumatic past and compassionate doctor Elisa could help him open up and confront his childhood wounds.
Seymour Levov, going by the nickname of 'Swede' in the Jewish community he was born into, was even more of an all-American than Douglas Fairbanks himself. He had just everything an American idol can dream of: not only was the tall muscular young man his high school star athlete but he married a beauty queen named Dawn into the bargain. And as if all this were not enough, Swede later became the successful manager of the glove factory his father had founded, which allowed him to live with his wife in a beautiful house in the New Jersey countryside. Well-mannered, always bright, smiling and positive, conservative but with a liberal edge, what bad could ever happen to him ? And yet... And yet this was reckoning without fate and its obnoxious irony, Swede and Dawn's nemesis manifesting itself in the person of Merry, their beloved daughter who in her teens unexpectedly turned into a violent activist... Written by
A radically ordinary story of American Dream's shadow side
American Dream that has gone wrong. Picture perfect couple (Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly) has a troubled child. At first the girl has a stuttering problem but growing up and reaching puberty, there is no denying that she wants to be nothing like them. And then it gets much worse...
Don't worry, it's not a horror movie or thriller although the summary may hint at that. To put it really shortly, it's a family drama.
Also starring Dakota Fanning (the daughter as adult), Molly Parker (as her psychotherapist), Uzo Aduba (Crazy Eyes from "Orange Is the New Black"!), Valorie Curry, Peter Riegert, David Strathairn. There are a lot of good actors movie although McGregor's character is firmly in the center of it all.
This is gonna be the kindest review of "American Pastoral" you will probably read. Critics seem to hate it and viewers will likely stay indifferent, or not praise it highly. But me I'm loving it!
To really understand what Ewan McGregor's directorial debut* is all about, you must be interested in watching and deciphering it as a parable, or simple story which includes a hidden moral or spiritual lesson.
On more superficial level, "American Pastoral" can be watched just as a family drama set in 1950-60's USA. This way, it's a functional if uneasy viewing which makes you fathom something bigger lurking somewhere around the corner but not quite appreciate it fully.
On deeper level it's about how difficult it really is to be flexible to the world and life around us. It's very human to long for freedom and try to place everything in boxes at the same time.
The deeper meaning here can unfold by relying on several different frameworks psychoanalytical, just intellectual or spiritual / symbolic.
The viewer's personal approach will, of course, be highly dependent on one's general world view, be it esoteric or rational (all things are ultimately explainable by science and reason), or somewhere in between.
I say "American Pastoral" is most enjoyable from spiritual viewpoint. Actions and the behaviour of the characters make the most sense and seems most understandable and human, if one concentrates on WHY we do things we do. If one only view causal relationships he/she did it because of the past event x or y the whole story loses a lot of its colours and shades.
The real magic here is how Ewan McGregor, with the help of all his cast and crew, has managed to make the movie work on every level you choose to see it.
One may not particularly enjoy approaching "American Pastoral" just rationally as many critics have done. But the movie still has a strong sure sense of style, both in visuals and storytelling.
This also works on two levels. Some see the movie as comical and theatrical, and characters as caricatures. At the same time, all this can convey so much emotion and sharp little observations about everyday life and relationships, that one can't help but be delighted during at least some moments. Just like reading a good spiritual book.
I liked all the actors and Ewan McGregor is my long-time favorite. But especially powerful are Dakota Fanning and Valorie Curry, both evil and innocent at the same time.
It's not often that movie manages to talk to me so directly and arouse emotions so strong as "American Pastoral" did. This is one of my big favorites from 2016 so far.
It may surprise that McGregor has such a sure hand as a first-time director of a complex movie. But he has always been versatile and has starred in similarly dark and complex movie already, 2003's forgotten little gem "Young Adam".
What DOES surprise is the fact that McGregor was not the original director and the man behind all this. As a director, he stepped in at the last minute after Philip Noyce left the production!
I have planned on reading the works of Philip Roth for over ten years or so. Still haven't done it somehow. After seeing "Pastoral", I want to do it even more.
* I know, McGregor has also co-directed 1999's "Tube Tales" but he only had a segment in anthology movie. "American Pastoral" can be still called his real debut as a movie director.
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